Thank you for your good question. Let us read Luke 3:1-11. “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.  Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.”

As we see in verse 4, John the Baptist was the person who was prophesied about in the Old Testament and chosen to be the forerunner of the Lord Jesus. John was aware that he was the forerunner for Christ, not the Messiah himself. John addressed this issue in Luke 3:15-16. “15 And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.”

As the forerunner, John’s ministry was to prepare the hearts of the Jewish people for the Lord Jesus. John’s message was one of repentance so that the people could “flee from the wrath to come” (verse 7). Repentance is when we agree with God that we are sinners, turn from our sin, and humble ourselves before God. The people were urged in verse 8 to “bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance,” which means that they should show by their actions that they were truly repentant. John told them not to trust in their lineage as sons of Abraham. They needed to be truly repentant.

Those who were convicted by John’s message were baptized by him as a symbol of their repentance. Getting baptized did not wash away their sins. Their repentance is what resulted in the remission of their sins (verse 3). Baptism was a visible symbol that they had repented and that their hearts were prepared for the coming of the Messiah. Verses 10 and 11 make it plain that the physical act of baptism was not the most important thing for the people to do. When the people asked John in verse 10 what they should do to show that their repentance was genuine, John did not stress baptism. Instead, he gave examples of showing generosity and kindness to others.

In verse 9 we read that “the axe is laid unto the root of the trees.” This is a figurative expression that means that Christ’s coming would reveal the reality of each person’s repentance. Each tree is a picture of a person and Christ would know who was truly repentant of their sins and who was not. Those who had not showed behavior that revealed true repentance would be eternally judged in the lake of fire. The Lord Jesus Himself said twice in Luke 13:3 & 5, “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

Luke 3:9 does NOT imply the loss of salvation of a believer. It is a verse that uses strong figurative language to urge unbelievers to repent of their sins. Repentance is still necessary for all people today. We read in Acts 20:21, “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Greeks were anyone who was not a Jew, so this message is for all mankind. Have you repented of your sins and trusted on the Lord Jesus as your Savior? If not, please do so today. Flee from the wrath to come when God will judge this world in righteousness. Receive the gift of eternal life and enjoy the certainty of a home in heaven someday. Trust Christ today! He is the ONLY hope for this world and He is the ONLY Savior for YOU!  (DJ)  (576.6)